December 2, 2021

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Five things Californians may not know about the top presidential candidates

More than 1.3 million Californians have already voted, and the clock is ticking for millions more to make a decision for the March 3 presidential primary election.

The field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates has been the biggest and most experienced in recent political history, and 20 of them remain on the California ballot. With a plethora of options, undecided voters must sort through a barrage of information to make the most informed decision.

Here are five things for Californians to know about the top Democratic candidates running for president, sorted by their performance in a recent statewide poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California:

Bernie Sanders

No. 1: He wants to abolish private health insurance. He’d do so by creating a universal single-payer government-run health care program. He hasn’t attached an estimate cost to his plan. While he has acknowledged taxes would go up for Americans in the middle class, he insists overall costs would go down because he’d eliminate copays, deductibles and surprise bills.

No. 2: He has a huge California operation. As of mid-February, his campaign has 22 offices and 105 paid staff members in the state, according to spokeswoman Anna Bahr.

No. 3: He’s calling for free college tuition for all. As president, Sanders would cancel the roughly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt owed by nearly 43 million Americans. He would also make attendance at public colleges and universitie tuition-free and debt-free to everyone.

No. 4: He’s appealing to California labor unions. The senator has earned the backing of National Nurses United, a labor group representing more than 150,000 members, and United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers’ local in the country.

No. 5: He’s passionate about climate change. Sanders is calling for the creation of 20 million new jobs to combat global warming and transition the country to 100 percent renewable energy through a so-called Green New Deal. He also wants to phase out nuclear power.

Joe Biden

No. 1: He’s held few public events in California. Biden didn’t hold his first public rally in the Golden State until Nov. 14, when he visited Los Angeles. Most of his appearances have been private fundraisers.

No. 2: His son lives in the Hollywood Hills. As his business dealings in Ukraine have drawn national attention this year, Hunter Biden has been devoting himself to his artwork.

No. 3: He wants to preserve Obamacare. He has the cheapest health care plan and favors a public option. He’s looking to build on Obamacare and preserve private health insurance rather than launch a Medicare for All system.

No. 4: A key firefighter union is backing him. Brian Rice, president of the state’s largest firefighters union, California Professional Firefighters, endorsed Biden. The International Association of Fire Fighters announced its support for Biden in April 2019.

No. 5: He’s passionate about gun control. On the day Biden was scheduled to hold his first California rally, a nearby high school saw three people die due to a school shooting. He told the Los Angeles crowd, “I’m so tired of people talking about your prayers. Dammit, we have to protect these kids.”

Elizabeth Warren

No. 1: She’s got California connections. Warren used to be a teacher for California Rep. Katie Porter, who has since endorsed her. She also has family in California, as her daughter, three grandchildren and her daughter’s husband live in the Los Angeles area. Her son and his wife also live in the state. Warren said she first visited California as a child when her eldest siblings joined the military.

No. 2: She would like a transition before abolishing private health insurance. Warren has said she’s fully on board with Sanders’ Medicare for All bill but wants to see a “transition period” before the country can get to a place where private health insurance is no longer around.

No. 3: Warren was reluctant to attack Sanders, a longtime friend, until they tangled after the Iowa debate. She told him he had called her “a liar on national tv” as the two argued over whether he once told her a woman could not win the election. She’s since suggested he’s not detail-oriented enough to enact universal health care.

No. 4: She and her husband are millionaires. Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, have more than $10 million, according to 11 years of tax returns her campaign released last year.

No. 5: She wants to decriminalize border crossings. She’d repeal Section 1325 of the U.S. immigration code.

Pete Buttigieg

No. 1: He wants to expand the Supreme Court. Ten of the 15 justices would be nominated and confirmed under the existing structure, while five additional judges would need unanimous approval from the 10 Supreme Court justices.

No. 2: He’s campaigning all over California. Buttigieg has been in the state more than any other candidate. Unlike half of the Democratic field, he’s appeared in the Central Valley.

No. 3: His volunteers have a special campaign dance — and Buttigieg refuses to do it. To pump themselves up on the campaign trail, Buttigieg volunteers have come up with a dance to the “High Hopes” song by Panic! At The Disco. It quickly spread on social media last fall, despite the mayor’s refusal to engage in the process. “The less people see me dance, the better. I just don’t have that kind of coordination,” he told TMZ.

No. 4: He has the smallest California operation. Buttigieg has no campaign offices in the state, and only 16 paid California staff members.

No. 5: His husband has a sense of humor. Buttigieg is openly gay and his husband, Chasten, has a strong comical presence on Twitter.

Michael Bloomberg

No. 1: He hasn’t always been a Democrat. Bloomberg ran twice as a Republican for New York mayor. “I don’t believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership” he said as he spoke as an independent for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Party’s 2016 nominating convention.

No. 2: He’s spending a lot in California. His campaign won’t disclose how much it’s spent on TV ads, but media trackers say it’s more than $75 million.

No. 3: He’s slowly putting out policy views. By the time Californians began voting on Feb. 3, he hadn’t put out a plan on immigration or higher education. He has since released those proposals.

No. 4: Bloomberg has the largest paid presidential campaign staff in California history. Bloomberg has more than 20 California offices and 400 paid staff members. His campaign expects both numbers to grow as the March 3 primary nears.

No. 5: He’d raise his own taxes. Bloomberg, who has a net worth above $60 billion, would bump the top tax rate up from 37 percent to 44.6 percent.

Amy Klobuchar

No. 1: She worries that the party is moving too far to the left. “I am troubled by having a socialist lead our ticket,” she told CBS News after the New Hampshire debate.

No. 2: Klobuchar likes to visit California. She and her family have taken hiking trips and visited national parks across California with her San Francisco-based friend.

No. 3: She has some liberal views, too. Klobuchar says the most difficult item to accomplish on her policy agenda will be cutting child poverty in half over the next decade, while eliminating it in the next generation. Her “cataclysmic” goal is to get the country carbon-neutral by 2050.

No. 4: She pushes her staff hard. Klobcuhar had the highest rate of staff turnover in the Senate.

No. 5: Gun violence is a top priority. If elected president, she’d immediately authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct more research into the issue.

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